[The following is based on communicating with considerable BamaMag sources who were in Tuscaloosa]
Four straight days of work for some of the nation's top college football prospects is in the books in Tuscaloosa.
The first Nick Saban Football Camp of 2016 wrapped-up late Wednesday and plenty of storylines were furthered and/or emerged during a time where nearly 1,000 kids worked out at the home of the defending national champions.
BamaMag has spoken with countless prospects after competing as well as dozens of onlookers this week and has the latest on who is now on board with 'Bama, who may be closer, who earned and offer and who else put on a show in the camp setting.
Pair of blue chips prospects pick 'Bama
The Crimson Tide picked up a pair of Scout four-star commitments during a 24-hour span in the thick of the camp, beginning with junior college offensive lineman Elliot Baker late Monday night. He said he hadn't planned on making the commitment but "bought in right away" while sitting down with Saban for a meeting to close out the day. Baker, who worked out well at both tackle spots during the camp portion of his four-day visit, doesn't plan on taking any additional visits at this time.
The following night Alabama added a prospect who Baker may soon be protecting in quarterback Mac Jones. The Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles four-star had been committed to Kentucky for nearly a year but he was in Tuscaloosa for the second time since UA offered in the spring and made the decision to switch his verbal commitment. Jones, who is fresh off of competing at the Elite 11 with fellow UA verbal and multi-day visitor Tagovailoa, has already begun working as a player-recruiter to help build the 2017 class.
Alabama is currently third in the Scout team recruiting rankings with 11 pledges thus far.
Considerable verbal offers out
As per usual with a Saban-hosted camp, the coaching staff was able to work closely with many top prospects over multiple classes and at this point it has resulted in at least a half-dozen new verbal scholarship offers over the classes of 2017, 2018 and even 2019.
The rising-senior class of course had the bulk of the new extensions with four, including to the top-ranked in-state defensive tackle Neil Farrell. The Mobile (Ala.) Murphy High three-star has seen his offer list soar over the last six months or so including with many in the SEC. UA pulled the trigger after Tuesday's all-day affair, something Farrell credits to his consistency and lack of fatigue. Junior college defensive lineman Malik Young, who has also seen his offer-list grow of late, also claims a fresh offer.
A pair of blue-chip defensive backs added UA offers after workouts as well in the 2017 class, beginning with New Orleans prep standout Brad Stewart. Working as a versatile defensive back, Saban told him cornerback is likely the starting point at the next level should he select the Crimson Tide. In no rush to make a decision, Stewart did admit he half-expected to earn the verbal offer while in Tuscaloosa. Fellow four-star cornerback prospect Tre Shaw, who announced his offer on Wednesday, has considerable SEC and ACC offers. The Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove star is seemingly in no rush to make a decision.
Two underclassmen defenders also added Alabama offers during the camp, beginning with class of 2018 Texas linebacker Bumper Pool. With recent offers from Baylor, Arkansas and SMU in the fold, he picked up UA's on Monday and learned of it from Saban himself. He worked out as an inside linebacker at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and noted how the camp is designed to fatigue prospects before the evaluation even begins.
Just closing out his freshman year at Nashville (Tenn.) Davidson Academy, class of 2019 defensive end Ani Izuchukwu learned of his good news Wednesday. The Nigerian said he hasn't even played the game of football for one year yet and he now has offers from LSU and Tennessee among many others to go along with UA's, which caught him by surprise.
"It's not easy to have an Alabama offer as a freshman," Izuchukwu said.
'Bama commitments, undeclared stars shine in workouts
The four-day prospect camp isn't all about scholarships and new commitments as many of the nation's best get to work out with and against one-another. In collaborating with many participants and onlookers, it was clear who turned the most heads when the helmets were on and the footballs were flying around.
The reaction begins atop the rankings with the nation's top prospect and Alabama commitment Najee Harris. It has been said plenty over the last two years but the five-star Antioch (Calif.) running back does it all on the football field and he rarely misses a workout. In this case sources say he didn't miss any and did what he usually does -- put on a show. Harris plays running back but would also be considered a five-star wide receiver per Scout Director of Recruiting Brandon Huffman, and he did a bit of both in camp with plenty of success at about 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. As he did nothing to hurt his lofty ranking in front of Scout it carried over to Alabama's camp where he was the most named prospect in BamaMag's attempt to learn of the last week's events.
The top player in the country wasn't the only Alabama commitment to impress this week. Fellow west-coaster and recent riser Tua Tagovailoa, fresh off of a dominant week at the Elite 11 seminfinals, threw for several days and carried over his momentum. New commitment Baker and fellow four-star 'Bama-bound tackle Alex Leatherwood each worked out for the bulk of the week and "had their way with people," per a source. Even class of 2019 Alabama commitment and Port St. Joe (Fla.) athlete Trey Sanders turned heads while camping all week long.
Just behind Harris among top overall standouts was another Scout five-star, but this one just picked up that fifth star in the last two months -- Devonta Smith. The priority Alabama wide receiver target worked out multiple days and drew the most praise outside of Harris because of his length and consistency, per sources. Smith "makes it look easy" in and out of his breaks and he can high-point the football with the best of them. The Crimson Tide has been considered to be in the driver's seat for his verbal commitment since he backed off of a Georgia pledge but LSU, Florida State and many others remain in the running for the South's top wideout.
Additional offensive performers who produced plenty of chatter include a pair of 2018 in-state elites with Alabama offers already to their name in Saraland quarterback Jack West and Paul Bryant wide receiver Seth Williams. West worked out just one day before lighting up South Alabama's camp (yes, the one Jim Harbaugh was at) and Williams flashed his well above average athletic ability as much as any underclassmen on offense.
"He can go," a source said.
Defensively, our sources indicated many of the standouts were within the front-seven and in the class of 2017. The term "freak" was relayed when discussing Scout100 Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab linebacker/defensive end Chris Allen, who Alabama covets as a JACK linebacker. Some say he could be atop the board for the Crimson Tide at the position and he showcased why during his time in Tuscaloosa.Junior college defensive end Micheal Clemons, who hasn't played in two years, has apparently climbed UA's board as well, though a scholarship offer wasn't presented because of the gap of tape for the staff to additionally weigh. Also among the defensive line standouts was top 200 player in the country and Fayetteville (Ark.) High standout defensive lineman Akial Byers. The four-star seemingly impresses everywhere he lines up to compete. In-stater Farrell, who added the UA offer, impressed with his motor and the young Izuchukwu did so with raw talent and range on the edge with the ability to pick up schemes quickly despite being new to the game of football.
At the second-level, in addition to the offer-adding Pool at linebacker, in-state prospects did the job. Though neither has public knowledge of an Alabama offer, four-star Spanish Fort standout Tyler Johnston and Bessemer City's Jamal Brooks continue to make headway with the homestate school. Johnston hasn't hit many camp venues of late but has shown versatility, a key portion of working out with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt working closely with him. Brooks, who has bulked up to near 230 pounds, caught Alabama's attention some at the Sound Mind, Sound Body event in Atlanta last weekend and it carried over to this week.
The secondary had several standouts, too, in addition to Stewart and Shaw who did enough to learn of new Alabama offers after working out. Hoping to soon be in that group is Jackson (Ala.) two-way star and Scout300 safety projection Kendarian Handy-Holly, who met with Saban after his workout. Alabama is being somewhat diligent at safety, a large need in 2017, as it has a commitment from Xavier McKinney and in-state athlete pledge Chadarius Townsend could end up there as well. However, Handy-Holly impacted the football more times than not at around 6-foot-2, 200 pounds including breaking on a ball enough on a crossing-route on the other side of the field to snag an interception to the surprise of many. Will he be the next in-state prospect to earn a UA offer?
In-state cornerback Marcus Jones, who has had a big spring and summer despite ideal size, impressed his peers as well as secondary coach Derrick Ansley. Jones said he worked closely with the coach in proving he is indeed a Power 5 prospect. Two days later, Jones received his first Power 5 extension from Purdue. In-state athlete Malik Cunningham, a three-star committed to Louisville as a quarterback, did the same while working out at defensive back for Saban, who "loved" the rangy rising-seniors potential at the position.
But the class of the cornerback group again went to a prospect many in the recruiting world have come to expect to steal the proverbial show when he shows up for a workout -- Jamyest Williams. The four-star Loganville (Ga.) Grayson athlete, who also connected with the Alabama staff at the Atlanta Sound Mind, Sound Body event, continues to show why he's coveted coast-to-coast despite being a bit smaller than the ideal college cornerback in this era. Saban told him he's an exception to his normal size rules.
"He has great footwork and reaction," an onlooker said.
*BamaMag tracked the entirety of camp as it happened, which can be relived on the premium message board or via the link below*